Geraldton in Western Australia was identified as one of Australia’s top lifestyle location. Image – Canva
  • Hotspotting believes the lifestyle change phenomenon started before the pandemic.
  • They analysed suburbs around Australia to identify the top affordable lifestyle locations.
  • The report showed Toowoomba, Yeppoon and Geraldton are top of the treechange list.

A pandemic-induced working-from-home boom saw many homeowners across Australia seek out a regional lifestyle but Hotspotting Director Terry Ryder said the exodus to the affordable lifestyle phenomenon started before the pandemic.

An Exodus to Lifestyle report from Hotspotting has identified the top affordable lifestyle locations across the country.

In Queensland, Toowoomba, Yeppoon, Townsville, and the Southern Moreton Bay Islands took out four of the top 10 lifestyle locations, with three in South Australia, two in Western Australia and one in Victoria.

Mr Ryder believes the exodus to the affordable lifestyle phenomenon began at least five years ago as large volumes of people left big expensive cities for smaller more affordable locations.

Mr Ryder said, “This core population trend has been happening for many years. The official population data shows that Sydney has been losing population to other parts of Australia for the past 10 years and Melbourne has been losing to internal migration for five to six years.

“While the COVID-19 lockdown period made all this more visible and gave it extra momentum, this trend certainly wasn’t caused by the pandemic.”

“Fundamentally, this big migration of population has been caused by the pursuit of lifestyle and affordability, enabled by technology – the ability to work remotely.”

Terry Ryder, Hotspotting Director

The newly released report identified the top affordable lifestyle locations with the best upside potential. The research analysed data from suburbs across Australia considering the combined rising sales activity, with the potential for capital growth. It also looked at areas with plenty of houses at affordable prices, strong existing and planned infrastructure, as well as proximity to major jobs nodes.

1. City of Toowoomba, Qld

Toowoomba’s strong economic performance makes it an attractive option for those seeking a lifestyle change.

Mr Ryder said, “Adding to the city’s appeal is its attractive parks and gardens, its extensive health and education facilities, and its proximity to Brisbane.

“This combination of factors, along with the city’s affordability, low vacancies and solid yields are attracting a variety of property buyers to the region, including first home buyers, tree-changers, baby boomers, retirees and investors.”

Toowoomba Property Asking Prices 


2. Yeppoon, Qld

As the main town in Livingstone Shire, near Rockhampton, Yeppoon benefits from a diverse economy encompassing tourism, defence, agriculture and construction. Yeppoon’s calm seaside waters, tropical climate and quiet lifestyle add to its appeal.

Mr Ryder said, “The region remained relatively untarnished by Covid-19 and employment opportunities remained plentiful into 2022. The shire’s unemployment rate in the June 2022 Quarter sat at three per cent, significantly lower than state and national averages.”

Yeppoon offers numerous schools, a hospital, two shopping centres and recreational facilities.

Mr Ryder said, “Vacancies remain tight with typical rental yields of four to five per cent  higher than most capital cities and large Queensland seaside areas such as the Gold and Sunshine coasts.”

Yeppoon Property Asking Prices 

3. City of Geraldton, WA

Geraldton is the only major city along Western Australia’s Coral Coast and the largest north of Perth. It is a key regional centre, and has seen swift growth in recent years, in line with growth in Perth and the state overall.

Mr Ryder said, “As the Perth property market rebounded strongly in 2020 and delivered notable growth in 2021 and 2022, so, too, did the municipality of Geraldton.

“It experienced a marked uplift in sales activity in 2021 and 2022. This was partly due to budget prices when compared to Perth, with houses typically priced around the mid-$300,000 range.”

“With growing industrial areas and other sectors providing job opportunities, properties in the Geraldton region are worthy of attention by both homebuyers and investors,” he said.

4. City of Mt Gambier, SA

Mount Gambier is said to be rated one of the best regional centres in South Australia for property investment. It offers lifestyle opportunities, relatively affordable housing, and employment growth in a vibrant regional economy, he said.

Mr Ryder said, “Forestry is one of the key industries in the region with expansion plans in the pipeline for several of the region’s largest employers.

“There is also a proposal to set up a forestry industry development and research centre in Mount Gambier” he said.

Mt Gambier may be an attractive option for property investment. Image – Canva

Mt Gambier has a median house price of $365,000, yields above five per cent, and vacancy rates close to zero. Mr Ryder highlights that Mount Gambier presents as a location worth considering for investors.

5. City of Bunbury, WA

With one of the country’s biggest regional ports, Bunbury is a commercial hub of Western Australia’s southwest region.

Mr Ryder said, “When combined with its major industrial estates and strong transport links to mining and agricultural regions, it makes a formidable employment node.

“Bunbury also offers an attractive seaside lifestyle and affordable housing which no
doubt account for it having a population growth rate well above the national average” he said.

Bunbury is located two hours south of Western Australia’s capital, Perth. Image – Canva

Regional property markets in Western Australia rebounded in 2022, after the worst of the pandemic lockdowns and border closures. Mr Ryder said lifestyle locations south of Perth, like Bunbury, produced some of the state’s most impressive results.

Three out of the five Bunbury suburbs analysed in the Summer 2022-23 edition of The Price Predictor Index was ranked as a rising market, he said.

Mr Ryder said Greater Bunbury’s low vacancy rates and high rental yields are encouraging. He said several government planning instruments indicate this area is likely to see extensive transport and infrastructure spending in the near future.

Mr Ryder says Greater Bunbury is worthy of consideration by both owner-occupiers and investors.

6. City of Townsville, Qld

The Townsville market rose strongly during 2021, helped by the diversity of the local economy and the level of infrastructure spending.

Townsville boasts a strong, diverse economy and population growth. Image - Canva
Townsville boasts a strong, diverse economy and population growth. Image – Canva

There was exceptional price growth in many Townsville suburbs in 2021 and most continued to escalate throughout 2022, Mr Ryder said, “The local economy and its property market are now thriving, and this is set to continue into 2023 and beyond.”

7. Mitchell Shire, VIC

The Mitchell Shire market has demonstrated strong growth in median house prices, boosted by its proximity to Melbourne and the growing demand for affordable lifestyle locations within commuting distance of the capital city’s employment nodes.

With strong population growth forecasted over the coming decades, numerous housing projects are under construction, while land area is being fast-tracked for rezoning by the Victorian Planning Authority.

Mr Ryder said, “Most of the growth will be focused on Beveridge where 16,000 dwellings are planned, along with an intermodal freight precinct to handle interstate freight as well as import and export container trade.”

Beveridge Property Asking Prices 

“House prices in Mitchell Shire remain considerably less than the median price of
Melbourne, which was $900,000 in January 2023” he said.

8. Rural City of Murray Bridge, SA

Mr Ryder said that the great lifestyle, affordable housing and a diverse economy, make Murray Bridge one of South Australia’s most consistently reliable investment locations.

Mr Ryder said, “Murray Bridge has also lured new residents with the promise of job opportunities with several agricultural, manufacturing, and tourism businesses recently expanding their facilities or planning to increase operations in the near future.

“A key attraction for first-home buyers is the low median house price – just over $300,000. For investors, the low vacancy rate, which has been under one per cent since April 2020, adds further appeal” he said.

9. Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Qld

The Southern Moreton Bay Islands boast remarkable scenery, varied wildlife and a coastal community atmosphere. Passenger ferries leaving the islands regularly keep the area connected to major jobs nodes in Brisbane.

“Most of the Southern Moreton Bay Islands have median house prices in the $300,000s and $400,000s, compared to the nearby mainland suburb of Redland Bay ($830,000) and the Greater Brisbane Area ($775,000).

“The two main islands – Macleay Island and Russell Island – have median house prices in the low $300,000s, making them the cheapest suburbs in the Brisbane region.”

Macleay Island and Russell Island Property Asking Prices 

10. City of Port Lincoln, SA

Known as Australia’s seafood capital Port Lincoln has a strong commercial fishing industry, as well as being an important visitor destination.

Residents of the City of Port Lincoln enjoy attractive beaches, spectacular scenery and a strong and varied economy.

“The outlook over Boston Bay is one of its defining features, while the foreshore and nearby National Park plays a large part in the appeal that sees thousands of tourists visit each year,” Mr Ryder said.

Port Lincoln is one of the world’s largest protected harbours. Image – Canva

“Sales activity has risen in Port Lincoln since 2020 and there has been an uplift in property values, with the median house price increasing 9% in the months to November 2022, according to CoreLogic data,” Mr Ryder said.

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